June 8, 2012, 9:25 AM

IRCE 2012 Report: Love for data

OKCupid’s founder digs into data on daters.

Lead Photo

Sam Yagan

Observers can tell a lot from a person’s online dating profile, Sam Yagan, co-founder and CEO of online dating site OKCupid told attendees this week at the Internet Retailer 2012 Conference and Exhibition.

Yagan shared the surprising and often humorous insights he found digging into the data on OKCupid users—and there is a lot of data to mine. The site, which launched in 2004, has more than 10 million registered users who send about 500 million messages a year to potential partners.

“Our brand was built on our data,” Yagan said. “We have a fundamental belief in data and we wanted to know why people date online and what kinds of data can we collect.”

He says while sites like Facebook and also e-retailer sites have social and purchasing data, OKCupid has demographic, psychographic, lifestyle and consumption data. That’s why a large, unnamed retailer contacted OKCupid to try and learn more about its customers, Yagan said.

The first thing he noted was that, like at a retailer site, search drives dating sites as well. He also said retailers can use OKCupid’s model to determine what a shopper wants, not, however, by what she says she wants, but by her actions.

For OKCupid, that is the profiles she has viewed, the photos she has clicked on and the messages she has sent. Sometimes the actions the user takes show OKCupid that she is interested in people who don’t meet her stated requirements. For example, a man who says he is seeking women under 30, might send a message to a 32-year-old woman.“Sure we get complaints sometimes, but it is worth it,” Yagan said. “It’s all about showing the right products to the right people.”

OKCupid found that women preferred older men and that men preferred younger women. He said, however, that looks and attitude can set older women apart. Older women, he said, are more positive and have more self-confidence. They also enjoy sex more and are interested in casual sex more than younger women.

Perhaps to go along with the confidence, the women analyzed find males much less attractive than males typically find females.

They also appreciate creativity and respect in messages from men. For example, a more creative opening, such as “howdy” or “what’s up,” prompts a response more often than “hi” or “hello.” While messages with words like “fascinating” and “cool” prompt responses more than” sexy” or “beautiful.”

This, Yagan said, should influence retailers’ marketing, merchandising and communication with its audience.

Other interesting findings from Yagan:

  • 32-year olds who show cleavage in their pictures prompt 79% more interest from men than those who don’t.
  • Women who like the taste of beer are more willing to have sex on the first date.
  • When it comes to the day of the week, women are most available to have sex on Wednesday.


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